Energy News

Smokeless Biofuel Saves Lives in Africa

(3BL Media and Just Means) - When I make dinner tonight, I’ll walk over to my stove, turn a few knobs and be eating in twenty minutes or less. Easy, clean, safe and cheap. However, those four adjectives do not describe the way most people, women and children in particular, in developing nations experience cooking.

Getting Off the Grid: IKEA Leads the Way in Wind Energy

(3BL Media and Just Means)-The Windy City is about to get windier. And hopefully, less reliant on fossil fuels.  IKEA recently announced their purchase of Hoopeston Wind, a wind farm of 49 wind turbines near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, two hours south of Chicago.  The purchase is the first wind power investment IKEA has made in the USA and their largest renewable energy project ever.

Coca Cola is the David that the Slingshot Needs.

"The Slingshot is the little tool that David needs to defeat Goliath"—Dean Kamen.

Florida’s Untapped Solar Power

(3BL Media/Just Means) I've spent the summer living in historic St. Augustine, Florida. The surf is great, the people are friendly and the sun shines brightly every single day. The sun is powerful here, powerful enough it seems to produce enough solar energy for most of the nation.

MGM Resorts Mega Solar Array Completed

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Sitting atop the roof of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is a 6.4 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) array. NRG Energy, Inc. built and installed the recently completed solar array for MGM Resorts International, the company that owns Mandalay Bay Resort. The solar panels cover about 20 acres and will produce the equivalent of enough electricity to power 1,000 U.S. homes a year.

Denmark Announces 100% Renewable Goal

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Denmark has just one-upped its status as the most cutting edge sustainable country in the world. They have committed to a goal of 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. That goal is not just limited to electric generation as other countries have done. They are including transportation as well. No burning of fossil fuels by 2050.

If that seems like an unrealistically lofty goal, keep in mind that these are the Danes we are talking about, who already get over 40% of their electricity from over 5,000 wind turbines, with every intention of making that 50% by 2020. Fossil fuel consumption is expected to fall by 20% over that same period.

While wind has carried most of the weight going forward, the latest initiative is more comprehensive. For starters, energy efficiency will play a major role. An intermediate target is looking for a 7% overall decrease in consumption from 2010 levels by 2020. Energy companies will be given specific targets.

Industrial heating and cooling is also a major part of the plan. Biomass will be substituted for coal on a large scale, for both heating and electricity. Subsidies will be provided for geothermal energy.

Also included are subsidies for energy efficient production processes, combined heat and power (CHP) applications, biogas, and smart grid. You could say the Danes are leaving no stone unturned in their search for a totally clean energy future.

What makes Denmark so successful while so many other nations are falling short?

US Water Consumption Lowest in Decades

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - One of the challenges we can expect to face in a climate-changed world is a dramatic redistribution of water resources. Some areas will experience drought, as California and all of the Southwest is currently facing, while others will be forced to deal with flooding, either from massive storms or snowmelt in the spring. These are enormous challenges which could threaten our economy and in some cases our livelihoods. The question of how we can prepare for this is an overwhelming one, though we know that we can surely benefit by becoming more resilient. In this context, this means, among other things, reducing the level of water consumption required for our way of life. That also implicitly means reducing our energy consumption, since the two are so inextricably linked.

There is some good news on that score. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), in a report issued earlier this week, water use in the US, as of the year 2010 has fallen to the lowest level since before 1970. This was largely due to reductions in the two largest water consuming activities: thermoelectric power generation and agricultural irrigation. The biggest drop was in withdrawals for feeding and cooling thermal power plants, which accounts for about 45% of all water withdrawals. That number fell by 20%. This derived from a migration away from fossil fuel plants, particularly coal, as well as improved efficiency. Irrigation, which accounts for another 33% of all withdrawals, fell by 9%. Public water supply withdrawals also fell by 5% despite an increase in population. The only areas that saw increases were aquaculture and mining. What’s not clear is whether that trend will begin to reverse with severe droughts like the one currently underway in California, which has already reversed decades of progress in air quality improvement.

These numbers were rolled up at a national level. Drilling down into the numbers, as the folks at the Hamilton Project did, shows a wide variation in water usage and water availability across the various regions of the country. Just because the national average is down, deosn't mean that some areas aren't struggling.

Investors Look to Renewable Energy for Profit Opportunity

Change is an interesting thing. New ideas are often viewed with suspicion and distrust. Our reptilian brain generally asks three basic questions: Will it eat me? Can I eat it? Or can I mate with it? If the answer to all three is no, then the reptilian brain moves on.

Most people have, by now, seen solar panels atop buildings and windmills on ridge-tops along the highway, and most have, with a few exceptions, decided that the answer to question one is "no." That brings us to question two, which is where the investors come in. Any big change represents a big opportunity. Of course, the big-time professional investors have already made their moves and many of them have already made fortunes in this arena, but is it too late for the rest of us to get in on the action?

Here are a few different answers to that question with specific suggestions by a couple of the investment industry’s established pundits.

The Motley Fool came out this weekend with five stock recommendations in the sector. Each of these companies plays a different role in the mosaic that constitutes the sector today. All are large players.

NextEra Energy(NEE) is a clean energy company, headquartered in Florida, which owns Florida Power and Light, itself, one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the US with 4.7 million customers. They are the nation’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun with roughly 15% of the national total of each. They also own and operate eight nuclear power plants in four states. The company earned $15.1 in revenue on 42,500 MW of capacity in 2013. According to Motley Fool, over the past ten years, an investment in the company grew by 181.4%.

Renewable Energy Group (REGI) is the nation’s largest biofuels producer. In addition to biofuels including heating oil and biodiesel, they also make renewable chemicals. The company has production capacity for 330 million gallons of biodiesel annually, 75 million of which was just added. The stock has dropped significantly since its highs of a year ago, suggesting it could be a good time to get in.

Sunpower (SPWR) is a leader in the manufacture of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar panels. Their Mexen® panels (according to Photon Module Survey) hold the world’s record for efficiency. The company has modules for sale or lease under Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). The stock has now rebounded from a dip that affected the entire industry last year, and is now trading 11.5% above their price 5 years ago.


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